Disco, House And Funk
Why the hell haven’t I posted any songs in these genres yet? I love the hell out of disco. I grew up listening to Earth, Wind & Fire and The O’Jays, for fuck’s sake. …On the other hand, I can be a touch picky when it comes to house and dance. I love a catchy beat, absolutely, but a redundant bassline and hook that lasts for eight entire minutes with little to shake it up? God, no.
A song starting out with untz untz untz is often the fastest way to turn me, as well as the video, off. When I find the right one, though? I’m a happy camper. Because of that some of the examples on the list may have a bit more of a pop or alternative flavor, but fear not. You’ll get all your classic vibes in good fashion.
Check out my previous post where I rounded up five songs in R&B, hip-hop and soul!
1. “Fade Out” by Viceroy ft. Gavin Turek
You might have seen Gavin Turek here and there. She’s been gaining notable traction in the pop world as a throwback to an older time, mixing disco and house with a slightly more modern bent. Here she combines her signature sound with Viceroy, giving us the confident and upbeat ‘Fade Out’.
The guitar is sumptuously groovy and contrasts well with sharp, clashing drums and a high, crooning chorus. Dance clubs and radio stations alike would gladly make this piece at home. Standard party lyrics abound, but the best part of this song is not the subject matter but the fact it makes you want to go out and do said subject matter. That being partying, chilling and not stressing overmuch about taxes or a deplorable healthcare system. Give in to that self-care and soak in these pre-summer vibes.
You don’t need my pity, fade out with me
Let’s get lost, the symphony awaits
R&B, Hip-Hop & Soul
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I’ve got some great stuff this week. Some are catchy, some are brilliant and some are a blend of both. What connects all these artists together outside their genre(s) is the fact they deserve way more attention than what they’re getting. Let’s share some of this goodness around!
Check out my last Sharing The Goodness where I reviewed folk, soul and lounge!
1. “Some Say” by Darci
Sometimes (often, always, every single time) a song has me conjuring up a mental music video. There’s something about it, something that digs right into my brain and starts tugging at all the little creative strings like fingers on a harp. If you’re an artist of any stripe you can likely relate to this (and if you can’t, well, it’s a hobby I highly recommend).
Darci‘s flow is fantastic. It’s almost stream-of-consciousness, with his vocals ricocheting back and forth as much as the instrumentation does. It’s addictive and a little surreal, filled with mood even as the lyrics are nothing I’d write home about. They go about exploring the standard gossip that comes with a party lifestyle. Been there, done that. The echoing backbeat, though, transforms the mundane subject matter into something almost mysterious.
People say this, people say that. What does the singer actually do? Probably something far more interesting than whatever lies gossips spin up to keep themselves entertained. This song makes me wish I knew how to play piano, because an instrumental would sound incredible. For now, I’ll press repeat.
Some say that we run these nights
Some say that we went too high
Soul, Folk & Lounge
Feeling tired lately? So are these songs. I rounded up some stuff that’s perfect for leaning back and filtering through whatever has you stressed, the audio equivalent of a back massage or epsom salt soak. Let’s skip the pleasantries (they’re too tiring, anyway) and get straight to the good stuff.
Check out my last list where I rounded up some of my alternative rock favorites!
1. “September” by Foner (sample of ‘(It Was) September’ by Superior Elevation)
It may not be autumn anymore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t relish in music that makes our soul crave chilly evenings and turning leaves. Foner‘s ‘September’ is a lovely little piece that should be a staple at most cafes, because it’s a song I want to curl up with a mug of tea every single time I press play.
Almost groovy in its sound, ‘September’ hearkens to its signature season and oozes nostalgia out of every pore — considering it samples and mixes up 1981’s single ‘(It Was) September’ by Superior Elevation, it’s small wonder it feels a little timeless. A little shorter and more focused, the guitar is still lovely and flows throughout the entire piece with a strong bassline, the lead singer rounding out an already full package with great vocals. The subject matter is only touched on briefly, adding an air of mystery that soon dissolves into a wonderful horn outro. I’ve been a fan of this song for a few years and I don’t see this love fading anytime soon. Give ‘September’ a try, or even check out the original, when you’re feeling nostalgia’s itch and need something to scratch it out.
Oh, September, it’s when she went away
She said she’s gonna stay
I’m behind. I’m so, so, so behind. Forgive me, goddess of rock, for I have sinned.
I am astronomical levels of overdue for getting some good rock songs on Sharing The Goodness. This is the genre that all but defined my childhood (besides non-stop disco and bad europop) and I’ve got a proverbial pick-up truck to unload over the next few posts. Let’s get this show on the road!
Check out my last post where I looked at alternative R&B and soul if rock doesn’t do it for you!
1. “Shakedown” by Valerie June
A new reoccurring favorite on Sharing The Goodness, Valerie June continues to impress with her iconic pipes and musical flair. ‘Shakedown’ is a song I’d love to hear at an outdoor porch party and, come to think of it, I really should throw one of those once I actually get a porch. It’s lively, charming and just a little on the short side — perfect for constant repeats while enjoying an evening drink. At least, I think.
A bit of bluegrass, a bit of classic rock, there’s a little bit for everyone to love here. The lyrics are simple, more for shuffling your feet than contemplating your navel, and I’m totally fine with that. …Have I also mentioned I love her fashion sense? Because I really do. Valerie June somehow strikes this tender balance between old-fashioned and modern with one of the most incredible hairstyles around. Short and sweet, you need to get this woman on your playlists pronto. It’s the least you can do!
Feel it when you sing it
That shakedown breakdown showdown
If you could change your fate…would you? That’s the question posed by Merida in Brave, a movie that probably didn’t want the fate of being considered the runt of the recent Disney line-up of CGI animated princess films.
Disney princesses are practically their own genre. They’re role models for kids of varying ages. Their films combine a mixture of adventure, romance and just enough drama without getting too heavy. They’re often musicals, though not always. The formula is pretty tightly woven into Disney’s commercial fabric, so it’s really the smaller changes that separate them from one another. Merida is interesting because she’s neither the least popular (sorry, Pocahontas) nor the most iconic (hello, Ariel). She exists in this weird limbo between ‘oh, yeah, the one with the huge curly hair’ and ‘…who?’. Merida is a princess I find myself liking and not because I view her as some shining beacon of independence in a female character.
In fact, this is one of the most baffling interpretations I see made about her on the regular and one I want to take a deeper look at. Let’s start off with the checklist. She’s ‘tough’ (usually a shorthand for being physically active and/or able to throw a punch), is ‘independent’ (another shorthand for doing whatever one wants) and is basically a girl who’s got a brain and always speaks her mind. Basically, a stockpile of traits we’ve seen before. What makes Merida stand out is how she seems to be a critical eye on all of the above while remaining a flawed and dynamic character in her own right. In layman’s terms, a rich white kid whose rich white kid mannerisms aren’t cute or funny — they suck!
You see, Merida’s ‘tough and independent’ personality is what gets the kingdom in trouble and her mom turned into Baloo.
Alternative R&B And Soul
Fell behind on these, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of songs. In fact, I’ve found far more than I even know what to do with. I’m learning more and more about all the varied categories, sub-categories and what-the-fuck categories as I go. Terms for specific genres I didn’t even know existed are popping up left and right, making it easier than ever to find songs that make my eyes glaze over with delight. That’s not just me, right? That can’t just be me.
If this isn’t your style, check out my last post where I looked at hip-hop and jazz!
1. “Gooey” by Glass Animals
Damn if it doesn’t feel great when you find a new group and discover they don’t just have a few decent singles, but their entire repertoire is addicting as candy. With only a few years to their name and an incredibly varied sound that gets more eclectic with each hit they put out, I can see Glass Animals only getting more successful from here. (They’ve actually got another fantastic single that I’ll have to put on another list for its entirely different genre)
‘Gooey”s title fits the song’s style perfectly — it’s like if melted butter was put to sound, almost bizarrely smooth and utterly sultry with each whispering note. A dreamy harp and the signature hissing croons of the lead singer create a brilliant atmosphere right off the bat, eventually pulling you into a rhythm that sways like a lullaby. I looped this song without mercy the first time I heard it, with each listen progressively better than the last to the point I had to share it with everyone I knew as soon as possible. It’s one of those.
I mean, when it comes down to it you just can’t go wrong with lyrics that include the lines ‘peanut-butter vibes’ and ‘icky, gooey womb’.
Ride my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance
Wanna sip this smooth air, kick it in the sand
Hip-Hop & Jazz
I’ve got some real good stuff this week. Songs that get me jazzed up (heh) are ones that blur the lines between genres, bringing in the best of each and something entirely new all at the same time. Some of the hip-hop picks here are going to have some distinctively jazzy influences, but there’s bound to be something here for fans of both genres and all the little overlaps. Let’s just get to it!
If you’re interested in past posts, check out the last one where I revisited more of indie and acoustic.
1. “Rose Golden” by Kid Cudi ft. Willow Smith
It’s a damn good feeling when you click on a song and know it’s gonna be good from the first few seconds. Kid Cudi and Willow Smith’s talents have crashed into one another like two planets, creating a result that’s as bombastic as it is unique.
Drawn in with classic harps and crooning only to suddenly swing into a pounding beat, the song all but grabs the listener by the proverbial hand and leads them on a journey — hip-hop, classical and indie are just a few of the influences on full blast here and make for something that’s as interesting as it is plainly catchy. Their vocals are fantastic — I’ve become a huge fan of Willow Smith over the past few years and Kid Cudi’s voice has taken a turn for the gravelly, providing a stellar contrast for an overall stunning piece.
It’s a full-package song through and through. I was drawn in by the lush instrumentation, swayed by the fascinating lyrics and left tingling by the sheer personality of all the incredible talent on board. There’s just so much to talk about to the point I risk overhyping. Just check ‘Rose Golden’ out — you won’t regret it.
Oh, since I was young, been grooving to my own drum
Ain’t that many teachers show me my potential
Indie & Acoustic
Let’s face it. It can be really hard getting through the week with so much bad news pouring through social media and public programs like a stubborn leak. The kind of music I like to listen to in order to further my mood during rough times varies quite a bit — sometimes I want pounding, angry rock to offset hopelessness, while other times I seek out sugary pop to perk me up. As of this week? Indie and folk can be the ticket you need to pull out all those seemingly elusive artistic emotions when you need to create or just get a good cry going.
I’ll be putting a touch more emphasis on the acoustic part of folk in this list, if only because we all could use some low-key, wind-down music once in a while. If this is a genre that tickles your fancy, check out my previous indie and folk recommendations.
1. “Wanna Be On Your Mind” by Valerie June
With one of the most charming set of pipes I’ve ever heard, Valerie June is a new favorite that’s found a permanent place in my playlists. You could even say she’s regularly on my mind! I’ll stop.
Her work is a vibrant blend of country and folk, leaning toward the latter with certain pieces and leaning back with others. If you’re like me and aren’t overly fond of country’s general sound, rest easy knowing Valerie June is versatile enough to cover a wide variety of approaches while retaining a strong identity. ‘Wanna Be On Your Mind’ is a jaunty acoustic-folk number, the almost earworm hook supplemented with a gentle keyboard and quirky chimes. I’ve even put on this song for a few friends and their organic head-bobbing only confirms what I already know.
I wanna be on your mind, stay there all the time
You can’t call my name
We’ve looked at the art direction. Mused over the gameplay mechanics and history over the course of the series. Now we’re in the meat of what truly makes or breaks a Final Fantasy title — story, characters and themes. Role-playing games are everything it says on the tin, designed from the ground up to create an emotionally moving experience supplemented by brilliant design and tactical gameplay mechanics. Some of the most damning reviews I ever read concerning RPGs growing up were generic storylines and forgettable characters. It didn’t even matter to me how fun it might be to play. If it couldn’t make me care, I just didn’t care!
What’s often the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Final Fantasy? The most blasé reply may include spiky hair, silly outfits and cheesy romance scenes. Another response may be ‘the most consistent inconsistent series the gaming world has ever known’. When it comes down to it, it’s frequently been the characters and the story that kept us up ’til two in the morning, inspired our craft and brought us to tears. Final Fantasy IX is an incredibly interesting entry in the series and one that takes you for a few twists and turns. This will be the most spoiler-y review, but I’ll be sure to mark them accordingly in case you want to experience this all for yourself (pro-tip: you totally want to).
Starting off with the story, I like to separate this title into two categories — the traditional and self-aware retread of classic, heartwarming fantasy in the first two discs and the ‘we got drunk and took one too many dares’ of the last two discs. While that’s more of a friendly ribbing than an outright criticism, this can prove a contentious detail depending on your preferences.
Continue reading “Thanks For Being Here, Final Fantasy IX! Part Three: Story, Characters And Theme”
Electronic & Synth-Pop
Got some good stuff this week! Unlike some of the previous lists where I’ve been sharing new favorites, some of these artists I’ve been a fan of for years. With so much music released week after week, it’s nice to do a little reflecting and see what’s stuck with you along the way (it helps my Youtube account is one giant music repository and I’ve been using it since community college). Without further ado, let’s take a look at some electronica and synth-pop!
1. “2012” by Genki Sudo (WORLD ORDER)
Remember those men in suits doing the robot? Then you may know a thing or two about Genki Sudo. If not, his smooth and dreamy synth-pop single ‘2012’ is a good place to start. The Japanese group WORLD ORDER gained a notable Internet presence through their catchy tunes and choreographed dance routines a few years back, still going strong today with concerts, advertisements and periodic album releases. While their self-titled ‘WORLD ORDER’ is their most popular song to date, I thought I’d take a glance at a piece that might’ve slipped under the radar.
Soothing and gentle, ‘2012’ leans more toward the low-key with its synthetic violins and electronic notes. The video is just as beautiful, embracing the natural beauty of Mexico City both in its environments and downtown cultures. This group clearly loves what they do yet don’t take themselves too seriously, allowing the confused and delighted reaction shots of passerbys to permeate multiple shots. It’s not an easy balance to strike and Genki Sudo’s WORLD ORDER encourages it in spades.
Perfection is when we’re here
Perfection is where we’re going to